Are these the 53 most beautiful campuses in the country?

Architectural Digest says a select group of colleges and universities boast seamlessly jaw-dropping design and function.

Bucolic. Stately. Pristine. Iconic. Beautiful.

Those are among the many doting words that the editors at Architectural Digest have used to describe what they consider to be the 53 Prettiest College Campuses in America for 2022.

Purely subjective but incredibly spot on, AD’s photo-driven list showcases the most spectacular—and some of the most sustainable—wonders of design that make these select institutions, well, better-looking and more cohesive than any others in the U.S.

“Many schools have beautiful elements—like immaculate dining halls, otherworldly dorms, or jaw-dropping libraries—but the schools on the following list stun across the board,” AD editors say. “Like a well-styled outfit, from the entry arches to academic halls and manicured lawns, everything on these grounds works in harmony to create a place as beautiful as it is educational.”

Some are small, like St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Some are large, like Indiana University at Bloomington. All eight Ivys made the list—Yale, Penn, Cornell, Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton and Columbia. A few others in tropical locations also appear, including the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Many are architectural beauties, highlighted by classic Gothic or Romanesque features, but not always. AD points out the spectacular Rice University and its “Mediterranean Revival” feel that complements more traditional elements. One the keys to older institutions making the cut is that even where modern touches have been infused, “they’ve also worked hard to maintain their visual legacies.” That is true of both the Ivys and places such as Washington University in Saint Louis.

Columbia University in New York

Though AD did not rank the 53 in order, they did mention two that catch the eye–Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., for weaving in those environmentally friendly components and Florida Southern College in Lakeland, which is replete with Frank Lloyd Wright-style buildings and water features, including its water dome.

Photo courtesy of Florida Southern College

Spectacular structures, including cathedrals and towers at institutions such as Duke University and the University of San Diego, are not the only features that makes a campus resplendent and worthy of AD’s honors.

Duke University

Landscaping often brings those elements together. That is highly evident at campuses such as the University of Washington, University of Vermont and Cornell University.

University of Washington (Eunice Chu/Unsplash)

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., features 115 varieties of plants as well as sublime rolling hills and lawns. “The grounds crew here works hard every day to install and maintain our beautiful outdoor environment,” says Ted Heywood, superintendent of grounds. “To have their work listed as amongst the prettiest campuses in America is an honor and a testament to their achievements.”

It helps to be surrounded by natural beauty. Several on the list not only have wonderful architecture but are bounded by seascapes or mountains: Stanford University in Pasadena, Calif.; Flagler University in St. Augustine, Fla.; Salve Regina in Newport, R.I.; Berry College in Berry Mountain, Ga; and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Others simply take advantage of the land to showcase their unmatched campuses, such as St. John’s College in Santa Fe, N.M. or Sewanee: the University of the South in Georgia.

Check out the complete list here

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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